A former federal prosecutor who has monitored police in Washington, D.C., for more than a decade was named on Friday as the first-ever inspector general of the NYPD.
Philip Eure will begin his oversight of the NYPD in late May — a milestone in the debate over whether the nation's largest police department has overstepped its authority with it aggressive crime-fighting and counterterrorism strategies. His newly formed division of the city Department of Investigation will have a staff of 50, including investigators, lawyers and analysts.
"After more than two decades of law enforcement and police accountability work, I have learned that independent review of a city's policing practices is an essential part of any modern law enforcement regime," Eure said at a news conference announcing his appointment.
He added: "At the same time, public safety and public confidence in the police are not at odds with each other."
In a statement, Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed Eure as "one of the nation's premier police accountability experts."
The independent watchdog post was created last year by the City Council in response to rising concerns over the NYPD's widespread tactic of street stops — known an "stop and frisk" — and its extensive surveillance of Muslims, as disclosed in stories by The Associated Press. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg had opposed the position, but the council overrode his veto.
Bloomberg and other critics of the law establishing the inspector general had argued that it would replicate the role of the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau and the Civilian Complaint Review Board. Also in the mix is an expected agreement for a federal monitor for the stop-and-frisk program.
DOI Commissioner Mark Peters, who appointed Eure to the $193,788-a-year position, insisted Friday that inspector general's office had a much broader mandate. He said it will use input from internal affairs, the CCRB and others "to study the big picture, identify patterns of concerns and come up with real-world policing solutions."
Eure, 52, served for 10 years in Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department before taking over the D.C. Office of Police Complaints. The office investigates misconduct complaints against the Metropolitan Police Department and recommends reforms.
Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters on Friday he expected to have a smooth working relationship with Eure. The two met recently and had a conversation that was "very forward-looking," Eure said.